Great Rivers Choral Society, Inc., which was founded in the fall of 2001, is an adult chorus of mixed voices whose objective is to foster and encourage music education and appreciation in southwestern Illinois. The choir is made up of 40-60 volunteer artists from all age groups and walks of life who enjoy singing and are looking for a means of expressing collectively their vocal talents.
Pursuit of Excellence
The goals of GRCS include building and sustaining a strong choral organization in the River Bend area, which will attract a growing audience of music lovers. In addition, the Society will focus on increasing the diversity and difficulty of music the chorus performs by using the expertise of the Music Director and the other members of the chorus with professional music training. Both the chorus members and the audiences will have their appreciation and knowledge of music expanded with this exposure. With this increase in repertoire, the chorus will be able to appeal to varied musical tastes and hence reach additional audiences.
GRCS is run by a Board of Directors who volunteer many hours of service to make this project a reality. In addition to the many hours spent in establishing the rules and procedures for the organization, these volunteers also devote much time and effort raising money and promoting the Society by personal contacts and donating material for the production of programs, advertising, and day-to-day operational activities. Without these many in-kind contributions, the GRCS would not exist and continue to grow. As evidenced by the information contained in the key personnel descriptions, the current volunteer board includes several individuals with an impressive breadth of organizational experience. Despite a tumultuous departure of the founder and president the board has ensured that GRCS will carry on and grow for years to come. Finally, chorus continues to blossom because of its concerts, and the reputation and artistic leadership of the Music Director, Nancy Welch.
In its first year, the Society has performed in four formal concerts, highlighted by the 2002 year-ending holiday concert with the Alton Symphony at Hatheway Hall on the Lewis and Clark C.C. campus. During the year, the choir performed a wide range of music from Irish melodies, light opera, an array of pieces from Broadway musicals to Handel’s Messiah. The response has been tremendous as the Society fills an obvious void in our community. In a relative short time, the Society has enhanced the quality of life in our community, allowing people to enjoy high-caliber choral performances, reasonably priced and within a short distance of their homes. The chorus seeks an audience made up of people who enjoy music but may not be able to afford the cost of the more expensive performances in the greater St. Louis area. For this reason, ticket pricing has been set with the needs of persons on fixed or limited income in mind. There are discounts for season ticket holders, those who purchase tickets prior to the concert dates, senior citizens, and students. Audiences numbering from 150 to 700 plus have attended the four concerts. The Chorus has also performed free concerts at nursing homes, a hospital, and in downtown Alton, promoting small business development, and in city parks with the Alton Muny Band.
Serving Southwestern Illinois Artists
GRCS fills a void in the community that has existed for some time. It gives people who love to sing an opportunity to learn and perform various kinds of music within their own community without having to go back to school, travel long distances, or possess extraordinary vocal musical credentials. These qualities make this group appealing to a wide variety of people from all walks of life, different ages and backgrounds. The present chorus is a diverse group of members ranging in age from recent high school graduates to retired persons, both professional and non-professional. The chorus continues to engage various instrumentalists at their performances. The group has also performed with other established musical groups in the area such as the Alton MUNY Band and Alton Symphony Orchestra.
When our audiences see how much we enjoy performing, they want to attend our concerts, tell their friends about us, and join us as performers. The chorus has gained several members from people who attended concerts. In addition to increased attendance at performances, GRCS has been successful in fundraising activities, most notably securing donations from individuals and business throughout the community.